Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pittsburgh and Laurel Highlands: Art and Architecture

By Emma Krasov, photography by Emma Krasov
Besides its steel and iron legacy, its 446 golden-yellow bridges, its contemporary eds and meds flagships, and its renowned sports teams of Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is known for preserving and developing multiple art institutions that had first arrived on the high tide of its industrial magnitude at the turn of the last century.  

The city of the Golden Triangle formed by the rivers Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio, and surrounded by picturesque wooded hills, carries on its reputation as a distinguished cultural metropolis, boasting an impressive number of historic and contemporary art spaces that should be high up on any city visitor’s list.
Carnegie Museum of Art started collecting the “Old Masters of tomorrow” since its opening in 1896. There are more than 30 thousand pieces of painting, sculpture, photography and decorative crafts in the museum collection. Its massive Hall of Architecture, founded in 1907, remains the largest in the USA assemblage of 140 plaster casts of world-famous architectural masterpieces from the Parthenon in Athens to St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. The expansive wall space around the museum's three-story grand staircase features The Crowning of Labor mural by John White Alexander, a distinguished American artist, who depicted Pittsburgh’s 19th-20th century progress through the blend of symbolic imagery and naturalistic details. The museum founder, Andrew Carnegie is shown here as a knight in shining armor, crowned with a wreath by a winged angel.

At Frick Art and Historical Center, experienced guides lead tours of Clayton – a meticulously preserved 11-room home of Henry Clay Frick, Pittsburgh’s great industrialist and art collector. His daughter, the last occupant of the estate, Helen Clay Frick, who died in 1984, had established The Frick Art Museum, and opened the family home filled with the exquisite Gilded Age furnishings, art pieces, and decorative elements to the public. At the white-columned museum building, besides the collection of European masters from the 14th through 18th centuries, there’s a rotating exhibition Forbidden Fruit: Chris Antemann at Meissen, now on display through January 10, 2016. 

This elaborate and festive show is a result of several years of collaboration between a contemporary American artist and Europe’s oldest porcelain manufactory (since 1710). In her largest project to date, Antemann created a witty parody on the 18th century Baroque culture of hedonism and decadence, fittingly displayed in the galleries featuring paintings by Fragonard, Watteau, and Boucher.

Even The Café at the Frick lives up to art lovers’ expectations of refined entertainment, serving up inspired lunch fare, like maple-smoked eggplant soup finished with cream and lemon-infused olive oil, and blue crab salad sandwich on brioche roll.  

The Andy Warhol Museum, located in a seven-story building, explores the legacy of the most innovate and controversial contemporary artist from his confident figurative school drawings to book illustrations and commercial advertisement, to silkscreen images and pop art works that made him world-famous. It’s easy to spend an entire day in this fascinating space. Museum visitors tend to group on the first floor staring at the live cam video from Andy Warhol’s (1928-1987) graveside, or taking 3-minute screen tests of themselves with a 16 mm camera, just like the artist’s friends used to do in his studio, The Factory, or playing with his inflated foil “silver clouds,” toys, and costumes. Traditional distinctions between art and consumerism continue to be challenged, and the meanings of true and fake glory continue to be diluted and redistributed by the artist’s unconventional approach to his own and others’ work and ideas in the many galleries of the museum.         

Mattress Factory is a museum of contemporary site-specific installations commissioned by the curatorial body of the institution, housed in the former factory buildings, and produced by international artists. Living Things by Jacob Douenias + Ethan Frier is a 3D piece composed of bright green live spirulina algae in glass containers, custom-made circulation- , carbon sequestration- , heating- , and lighting systems, surrounded by assorted furniture. The artists’ statement reads. “This installation reveals the phenomenological qualities of the highly beneficial micro-algae and challenges visitors to consider what the future of the domestic environment may become in the context of the precarious agricultural and energy needs of a ballooning population.” Presented in another building, Trace of Memory by a Japanese-born Chiharu Shiota consists of black yarn stapled in geometric patterns over vacated rooms in the old creaky building filled with antiquated suitcases, books, bed, chairs, sewing machine, and wedding dress. Altogether the museum collection includes 17 works created for the spaces in which they are displayed.
 At the Society for the Contemporary Craft, a profoundly meaningful exhibition Mindful: Exploring Mental Health through Art is currently on display through March 12, 2016. The goal of this highly creative and artful show is to break down societal stigma associated with mental disorders. Featuring more than 30 works by 14 contemporary artists, Mindful examines not only the impact of mental illness on society, but the role of art in encouraging self-expression and offering guidance in understanding the condition and seeking effective treatment.

In his sculpture Echoes Michael Janis reflects on social interactions and complex behaviors by using pairs of images of overlapping faces in fused glass arranged to create a new, third face with its own expression. “One cannot change without leaning a little further into the shared world, and without recognizing that even in one’s solitude, one is always at some point touching someone else,” reads the artist’s statement.

Just an hour drive to the east from Pittsburgh, an art and architecture treasure trove awaits in Laurel Highlands – a region of 3000 sq. miles of dense forests, serene lakes and roaring waterfalls.
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, in 1959, and extensively renovated this year, includes the 30 000 sq. ft. building and a series of landscaped gardens and outdoor terraces. The museum collection, established through a bequest from a local philanthropist Mary Marchand Woods, reflects the national and regional history and culture with a strong emphasis on American Western and modernist art, the city of Pittsburgh and its development in paintings of the early 20th century artists, the works of female artists, and others.
Not far from the museum, The Supper Club restaurant in the 100-year-old building of the Greensburg Train Station, headed by the Executive Chef Greg Andrews, serves farm-to-table seasonal fare, like heritage chicken, house-preserved vegetables, and Clover Creek cheeses.

A humongous collection of art from sculptures by Alexander Calder and Fernando Botero and prints by Mucha and Norman Rockwell to Tiffany lamps, Baccarat and Waterford crystal chandeliers, and silk Hermes scarves, is amassed by Joseph A. Hardy III at his enormous estate, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, that encompasses a lavish Chateau Lafayette, modeled after the Ritz in Paris; airplane hangar; Auto Toy Store (a vintage automobile museum); spas for humans and canines; a zoo with tigers, lions, and bears (mostly rescued animals) and a Wildlife Academy; art studio for resident artists; two-story shopping gallery; golf courts; casino; pool, and Falling Rock boutique hotel, designed by Frank Lloyd Write.

The Nemacolin’s Executive Chef Sean Eckman and Pastry Chef Scott Tennant leave the resort guests wishing for nothing with their upscale culinary creations based on seasonal local ingredients and creative well thought-through combinations of bold flavors and textures.    

Two most famous Frank Lloyd Write’s buildings in Laurel Highlands attract throngs of visitors from all over the world. Fallingwater, commissioned in 1935 by Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr., was supposed to be built with a view of a waterfall, but the visionary-architect decided to place the house on top of a 300-million-year-old basalt rock with the waterfall so its dwellers would “live with the waterfall” not just watch it from their windows.   

Kentuck Knob, the 1954 house of I. N. Hagan that was supposed to be built on top of a hill, was cut into the hill instead – in accordance with Write’s principles of organic architecture. The house is covered with a green patinated copper roof, and its bedroom windows are on the ground level to better observe the life of moles and gofers populating the hill. The house was fully designed by Write, but built by his apprentices. When the happy owners repeatedly invited the aged yet constantly busy with new projects famous architect to come and look at his own creation, he replied, “I don’t have to come see the house. I envisioned long ago what you’re observing now.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

La Marcha on the March: A Notable Newcomer Enters Berkeley Restaurant Scene

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov
Spanish cuisine has a firm hold on hearts and minds of the San Francisco Bay Area gourmands. In all kinds of mainstream and ethnic restaurants traditional Spanish tapas share bar counter space with Asian fusion, Latin-American tapas, and other small plates, all vying for the glory of the centuries-old original open-face sandwich with a dual purpose – to server as a tasty appetizer and to protect a glass wine or beer from flies.

La Marcha, a new kid on the Berkeley’s well-established restaurant block on San Pablo Avenue, is busy every night, obviously appreciated by the food savvy locals for its Spain-centric wines, a long list of mouthwatering tapas, and fragrant, freshly made creative paellas.  

Owned and operated by the two distinguished Bay Area chefs Sergio Emilio Monleón and Emily Sarlatte, known by their catering company Ñora Cocina Española, La Marcha offers not only the highest-quality authentic Spanish cuisine, but also efficient service and the friendliest atmosphere in the modern open-brick space designed by Restaurant Design Concepts, featuring rustic elements of wood, terracotta, artisanal tiles, and Edison lights overhead.
“At La Marcha, we are passionate about creating a dining experience that is fun, memorable and inviting, just like a traditional tapas stroll in Spain. I want our guests to feel an instant sense of community when entering our restaurant,” says Chef Monleón, who takes turns with his business partner manning the kitchen and the front of the house every other week. 
“I like making guests feel recognized and taken care of, creating a special neighborhood spot with great traditions and delicious, authentic Spanish cuisine not only for Berkeley locals, but the entire Bay Area,” says Chef Sarlatte.
This reviewer recently had a chance to experience the La Marcha hospitality firsthand.    

With the Chefs’ deep knowledge of Spanish cuisine, old and new, and their commitment to excellent execution of every single plate, my dining companion and I were thoroughly enjoying an array of dishes accompanied by two distinct vintages of tempranillo – 2014 Marc Isart La Maldicion from Madrid and 2008 Ermita Reserva from Rioja.
The tapas menu was long and tempting enough to try quite a few of those.

Bruselas presented crisply Brussels sprouts in Pedro Ximenez sherry reduction with red grapes and a hint of balsamic.

Albondigas – wild boar meatballs – were served in delicious sherry tomato cream sauce with manchego cheese and spicy-sweet guindillas.

Classic Patatas Bravas were perfectly fried and smothered in Calabrian hot sauce redolent of toasted paprika.

Croquetsas de Champinones (crimini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms) were served with a side of mojo verde – a creamy combination of finely chopped cilantro, parsley, chives, and garlic.

Hamburgesas morunas – cumin lamb sliders with sheep’s milk cheese idiazabal, minted cucumber, and harissa aioli were thick yet tender, and very satisfying.
However full from the tapas tasting, we couldn’t have skipped a paella the Chefs are famous for.  

The selection of paellas at La Marcha reflects their creative approach toward traditional Spanish fare. We picked rich and flavorful Paella Valenciana, with rabbit meat, slowly braised (until it’s falling off the bone), seared duck breast, snails pouched in court-bouillon, green beans and fresh rosemary over golden saffron rice.  

For dessert, we fetched the last remaining order of traditional Churros con Chocolate, and they were as wonderfully crispy on the outside and soft on the inside as homemade churros get.  
It's no wonder that the majority of diners at this little cozy place when asked about their food have big smiles on their faces.

La Marcha is located at 2026 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, California. Open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Two happy hours – from 4 to 6 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m., offering free tapas with purchased drinks. Additional information at:   

Friday, November 13, 2015

Victoria Pasta Sauce Wows California

By Emma Krasov

We all know that the sauce can make or break a pasta dish. For that fresh, undiluted, genuine flavor of ripe tomatoes laced with garlic, peppers, and olive oil, many of us, home chefs, go into a messy affair of cooking our own Marinara or Bolognese. In my own kitchen, not every sauce-cooking experiment deemed successful, but recently a simple glass jar of homemade goodness came to my rescue. The moment I opened Victoria’s Fine Foods’ Marinara, the air was filled with the aroma of summertime. Fresh and delicious, well-balanced with just the right amount of natural sweetness and acidity, this sauce compliments any of my favorite pastas – from spaghetti and meatballs to lobster ravioli.   
The struggle is over now, with the advent of Victoria Fine Foods, a leading authentic pasta sauce manufacturer, based in Brooklyn, NY, into our blessed state of California. Founded in 1929, Victoria offers a true homemade sauce, made of only fresh unmodified ingredients, and kettle-cooked in small batches in ready-to-eat form. The current expansion of Victoria’s pasta sauce sales answers the growing consumer demand. More people are trying to put healthier, minimally-processed foods on their tables. The company’s “ingredients-first” approach fits the bill for many health-conscious Californians.
Nearly 2,500 stores in newly-added distribution states of Florida and California, like Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons, Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods, etc. now feature Victoria’s premium pasta sauces on their shelves. (Suggested retail price for Victoria’s premium line of pasta sauces is $7.99 - $8.99 per 24-ounce jar).
It’s important to know that Victoria’s pasta sauces are gluten-free, non-GMO, have no added sugars, colors, preservatives, or artificial flavors. Additionally, no water is added in the manufacturing process—a rarity in the pasta sauce production.
“Our recipes remain true to the original Victoria vision that began nearly 100 years ago,” said Don Davide, chief strategy officer for Victoria Fine Foods. “The natural and organic trends that have been established in the past 15 years have morphed to the point that consumers now have a more holistic view and appreciation of real food ingredients, and that happens to suit our brand as we’ve remained true to our ingredients-first approach from day one. Our growth is partially attributed to better food trends, but ultimately it is because of taste…real food tastes better, and Victoria sauces simply taste best.”
Victoria offers 13 varieties of its premium pasta sauces, including Basil Sauce, Vodka Sauce, Marinara Sauce, Fradiavolo Sauce, Roasted Garlic Sauce, Chianti Wine Marinara Sauce, Italian Veggie Marinara Sauce and more.
In celebrations of its expansion to California and Florida, Victoria Fine Foods has launched a recipe contest for the best pasta dish in each new region. Participants can enter by uploading a photo of their favorite pasta recipe using the hashtag #Pastaratzzi for a chance to win a $1,000 kitchenware makeover and other prizes. For contest details, visit
Special for Art and Entertain Me readers: like our page on Facebook for a chance to win a 24-oz. jar of Victoria Marinara sauce. Go to:    
For more information, please visit

Friday, November 6, 2015

This Sunday, Try Hot Pot at Dragon Beaux San Francisco

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

One of the hottest Asian cuisine places in San Francisco, Dragon Beaux on Geary Blvd. is open daily for dim sum lunch and a la carte dinner, but every evening, when the solid covers are removed from the stone-curved tabletops, induction burners light up for hot pot – a DIY one-course meal consisting of premium meats, seafood, vegetables, and noodles flash-cooked in five different choices of broths and dressed with nine different homemade sauces.

All You Can Eat hot pot is the most popular, only available Sunday through Thursday, great for families and groups, mostly because there’s lots of delicious food to dip in boiling broth and consume – might be too much for a couple – but, if you’re up to the challenge...

A La Carte hot pot includes many more choices of meat and seafood, like a trio of the highest quality thinly sliced Australian Wagyu, American Kobe, and top-notch Australian A5 Wagyu beef, as well as wide selection of mushrooms, organic tofu, and exotic noodles like taro and squid ink.

Dragon Beaux is located at 5700 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. Open Mon.-Thursday 11-2:30 and 5:30-10; Friday 11-2:30 and 5:30-10:30; Sat. 10-3 and 5:30-1-:30; Sun. 10-3 and 5:30-10. More info at 415-333-8899 or

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ka’anapali Beach Resort, Maui: Five Delicious Finds

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

Leilani’s on the Beach

Led by Chef Ryan Luckey, Leilani’s on the Beach in Ka’anapali takes a serious approach to food and drink. Providing diners with the highest quality fare while supporting local farmers is the primary goal of the establishment. “I budget high for the produce,” says Luckey. “We want organic, we want local, we want varieties of fresh vegetables. Our philosophy at TS Restaurants [Hawai’i and California restaurant group] is to move away from big boxes. All our proteins – meat, fish, and dairy – come from the islands, nothing frozen. It’s hard to sustain, but our consumer is much more intelligent now, more food-savvy, and we’re up to the challenge to meet the demand. ”
Start your dinner in style with tropical cocktails, just in time for sunset. Then pick from a rich variety of inspired dishes on the menu. They taste as good as they look in the following photos.

Seared scallop with kale, crispy bacon, tomato-ginger jam, and jumbo lump crab cake with hearts of palm, corn, pickled red onion, and tomatillo aioli.

Tomatoes and fresh burrata salad with pickled onions, radish, basil oil and lava salt.

Sesame crusted rare ahi tuna with shiitake mushroom, grilled asparagus, and citrus coconut jasmine rice.  

Meyer lemon risotto with lemon infused olive oil, onion, fennel, ginger, and garlic.

Maui onion marinated sirloin with sautéed Maui onions and red wine reduction.

Chocolate mocha mousse cake infused with Ka’anapali coffee and garnished with Kula strawberries in port reduction and whipped cream.

More at:

Joey’s Kitchen at Whalers Village

In the middle of a bustling shopping center hides a little gem of Hawaiian cuisine, prepared with love by Chef Joey Macadangdang, assisted by his wife, Juvi, and other family members.
“We make an emphasis on freshness and consistency,” says Macadangdang. “Our regulars know what to expect – good food all the time!”
Fresh, unpretentious, and attractively priced, Chef Joey’s generous plates are sure to leave the weary Ka’anapali shoppers sated and satisfied.

The blackboard menu presents a variety of mixed plates, and you can hardly go wrong with any of them.

Coconut shrimp with potato chips and coleslaw.

Huli-huli chicken with rice, macaroni salad, and pickled vegetables.

Don’t forget the refreshing halo-halo dessert – honey dew melon, coconut meat, Rice Krispies, shaved ice, tapioca and ube (sweet purple potato) ice cream from Magnolia.

Drums of the Pacific Lu’au at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa

For more than 30 years, this over-the-top celebration of island culture and cuisine maintains its authenticity and delights visitors and locals alike. The grandiose lu’au includes imu ceremony (unearthing the kalua pig), dinner buffet of traditional Hawaiian dishes and open bar, lighting of the torches, non-stop song and dance performances, fashion show, local crafts, and hula lessons onstage.

Surfing Goat Dairy

Worth a trip from the beach to the inland Maui, Surfing Goat Dairy is owned and operated by Thomas and Eva Kafsack. Raising about a hundred goats on practically hand-made pastures, the spouses produce “goat cheese from paradise” from the milk of a happy herd grazing on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala. The amazing variety of flavored cheeses falls into three categories: soft, fresh chevre, and quark (fromage blanc). Visitors to the Dairy enjoy complimentary samples and can purchase award winning cheeses as well as go on a tour to pet and feed the goats, and learn about hand- and machine-milking and cheese making processes.

Hawaii Sea Spirits

Ocean Vodka, the official vodka of the Hawaiian Airlines, and Deep Island Hawaiian Rum are produced by the three generations of Smith family of Hawaii Sea Spirits, organic farm and distillery, next door to the Surfing Goat Dairy.

Both vodka and rum are made from organic sugar cane grown with the use of organic fertilizers, and no pesticides. 30 types of sugar cane grow on the farm, identified by their Hawaiian names.

Farm visitors can enjoy the panoramic views from the slopes of Haleakala, a tour of the plantation and the production and bottling facilities, and spirits sampling.

Information about all the attractions and places to stay and eat at Ka’anapali Beach Resort: